Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Adventures in Aviation, Part Trois

 Saturday was supposed to be my first official flying lesson with a Certified Flight Instructor. Long story short, I didn’t get my first official lesson, although I did meet with an instructor, and he definitely left a lasting impression.

We got to have a one-on-one chat, student and instructor. I explained to him my outlook on flying and the reasons why I want to learn how to fly (if I’m going to be in a plane, I want to make sure everyone’s safe and I’m being useful). He nodded his head and made agreeing noises. I didn’t really feel like we were “connecting”, but who I am to say. When I felt like I had used up my rambling quota, and I could start to tell the conversation was getting off track (we started talking about house boating on Lake Powell), I decided to shut my yapper and let him talk. He explained that he’s a very strict instructor. He doesn’t let anybody get off without convincing him that they really know what they’re doing. Even that veteran pilot who needed a quick sign off; 1 or 2 turned into 20 landings before Mr. Instructor was satisfied.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want an instructor that’s going to be a drill sergeant. I’m weird like that. If you’re going to do something, best to do it right. But the part that got me a little worried, was when he explained that he’s been in 3-4 near mid-air collisions (despite using the radios) and his belief that 90% of the people that do get their pilot’s license shouldn’t actually have it (because they’re not competent pilots). Up until that point, I saw the sky as a relatively safe and inviting environment and the challenge of learning how to fly doable. Now they sky was a deadly traffic way where my flying skills would never be sufficient. I’m sure he was just trying to scare me to make sure I don’t take my responsibilities lightly, but dude, couldn’t you just level with me? I’m a responsible person. I don’t have any grand illusions about the wonder of flight. Remember? I want to get from A to B fast and safe. That’s it.

So I was a tad bit discouraged when Mr. Instructor and I finished our nice little chat. I conveyed this to Wes, and also the part about how Wes shouldn’t be teaching me any maneuvers because he’ll end up teaching me incorrectly. Wes, undaunted, took this as a challenge. We were going to get in that plane and do some damn maneuvers. What was that guy talking about? He knows how to teach basic maneuvers correctly; there really isn’t a way to teach them incorrectly. Sheesh.

So off we went. The weather was beautiful – blue sky and big puffy clouds. We practiced lots of clearing turns, descending 360 turns, and Wes had me experience my first stalls; one power on and one power off stall. So that thing that will kill you – A STALL – turns out you have to demonstrate your ability to stall and then recover from the stall as part of your flight training. Makes sense, but is it fun? No.

All in all I really enjoy learning how to fly. Saturday was my best experience yet. But I think the next time I get into a plane it needs to drop me off in Tahiti. I guarantee that just one day on a Tahitian beach will cure all my flying ills.

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